Athens leads St. Mary's to 1st `B' title

St. Mary's 26 Spalding 20

Football MIAA B Conference

November 17, 2007|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN REPORTER

Quarterback Peter Athens' fourth touchdown pass of the night, a 10-yarder to Dan Rogers with 8:42 remaining, gave St. Mary's a 26-20 victory over Archbishop Spalding for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship last night at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.

It was the first appearance in the B Conference final for the Saints (8-3), while the Cavaliers (7-4) were going for their third consecutive crown.

But they were held scoreless by the Marlon Johnson-led defense in the second half after holding a 20-12 halftime lead.

St. Mary's last shared the B Conference title in 2002 with St. Paul's and Severn, before a championship game was played.

St. Mary's missed the conversions on its first three touchdowns and trailed, 20-18, going into the last 12 minutes, but Athens drove them 57 yards in seven plays with a 26-yard run by Neil Lewnes setting up the game-winning score from the 10.

Athens completed seven of 14 passes for 166 yards but had threw four touchdown passes -- two to Dontra Peters from 51 and 58 yards and an 8-yarder to Mark McNeill.

"Peter is a stud, has been since Day One when he came in here," said Saints coach Mike Clay.

Athens, a junior, transferred from Northern-Calvert.

"If not behind him, we wouldn't be doing this. We wouldn't have had half the success without him."

Athens credited his defense for the win.

"I can't put into words what this means," he said. ""Our defense came back in the second half. They worked so hard and got us the ball back and stopped Spalding's offense. That was huge. We were so excited when we first came in."

The two teams played Oct. 26 in regular season with Spalding prevailing, 21-19.

Hockel, who led all rushers with 90 yards on 17 attempts, scored two touchdowns in the first half on runs of 1 and 2 yards.

And Nick Kuhl scored from the 16 to give the Cavaliers a 20-12 lead with 1:59 remaining in the first half. The trio of touchdowns capped drives of 55, 64 and 38 yards, the latter resulting from a blocked punt that gave Spalding the ball deep in Saints territory.

St. Mary's had scored in between the Cavaliers scores on a pair of touchdown passes from Athens to McNeill and Peters of 8 and 51 yards, respectively.

pat.omalley@baltsun.com

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